27 August 2008
Customer Service Solutions
I recently wrote a surprisingly popular post about Dutch customer service. One of the most entertaining responses was, "Isn't that an oxymoron?" Perhaps. A follow up seems like a good idea since I have been using one of my favorite solutions lately and it's easy to pass on. Here it is: call the US.
As silly as that sounds, we book most of our international travel through American websites because they're cheaper. Also, calling the airlines in Holland means using those 0900 numbers, at rates of 10-15 cents per minute, and then only during business hours. I can call most 800 numbers in the states, pay 3-5 cents a minute for the international call, and usually get someone on the phone 24/7. Plus there's the added bonus of getting to do business in English, which is always a pleasure. I also feel like they're a bit more informed, but that may be my mistake.
While working on tickets for Christmas (yup, already got those), I called an airline's European number and was told that if I wanted to change my ticket, it would have to be sent to Poland. When I asked if it wasn't possible to do the same thing at Schiphol, she asked me what I was talking about. After I explained that Schiphol is the international airport in Amsterdam, she looked it up and confirmed that their (major international) airline did have a ticket desk there and the mailing to Poland business wasn't necessary. Uh huh. Yup. What a relief.
After living here for four years and having worked quite hard on learning the language and working within the system, I'm finally allowing myself to cheat, work around, and find quick solutions. You can do as much integrating as you want, but getting things done remains complicated, for foreigners and for locals!